Why Nairobi’s Membley is becoming a mini Muthaiga

  • The houses being put up in Membley are in a controlled development
  • The gated estate is having tarmacked roads, perimeter walls and security guards, something not common in an area predominantly occupied by the not-so-wealthy

Seems like a gated community is creeping into shags, in an area that is mostly occupied by the not-so-wealthy residents of Nairobi.

The houses coming up in the area are put up in a ‘controlled development’ setting and fast attracting people who previously had to contend with high-rise apartments.

These gated homes have round-the-clock security guards, perimeter walls, tarmacked roads, and manicured lawns, streetlights, shopping centres and even churches and schools.

One such gated estate is Membley in Ruiru on the Northern Bypass off the Thika Superhighway. This is where Mwangi Macharia bought a plot three years ago.

He admits that the middle class has shifted to gated communities as they’re “interested in security and privacy. The once good estates like South B, Buru Buru, Umoja and others are no longer appealing. It is simply about security, privacy and a feeling of moving up the social class.”  

Daniel Ojijo, the CEO of real estate consortium Home Universal, says   security, general upkeep, privacy and strict standards endear many to gated estates irrespective of cost.

Membley, though neighbouring shags-like areas, has become so popular that a plot measuring 40 by 80 feet costs over Sh3.5 million, while a 100 by 100 feet plot goes for almost Sh10 million.

Maisonettes there costing between Sh11 million and Sh30million and monthly rent from Sh18, 000 to Sh75, 000.

The exodus from high-rise apartments to gated areas is the way to go according to Ojijo. But urban planning lecturer, Dr Isaac Mwangi, views it differently.

Dr Mwangi says the gated community craze has become a Kenyan class problem, an attempt to replicate posh estates like Muthaiga, Runda and Evergreen because of the need for security and exclusivity.

“It is a class mentality problem. This is urban sprawl. They are uncontrolled and eating into prime agricultural land,” explains Dr Mwangi.